Has-been mayor Tomas Osmeña is again in a legal warpath. Is this a result of being jobless? Is there is something amiss? Or maybe, as they say it in Tagalog, “nagpapansin lang (trying to get noticed).” After filing criminal and administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against Mayor Edgardo Labella, City Legal Officer Rey Gealon and City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. for blocking the restoration of his office after he cannibalized it, he is now contemplating going to court for declaratory relief to void the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots.
Over the weekend, Osmeña filed cases of violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act and usurpation of function against the respondents for denying his request to restore his office to its 2016 condition. Two days before he stepped down, Osmeña took everything inside his office and destroyed the flooring, ceiling, lavatory and the toilet bowl, claiming he used his personal money to improve his office.
A month after, maybe feeling the heat from the public, he wrote Labella and offered to restore the condition of his office, but Gealon and Casas denied his request as there is already a pending case on what he did. Restoring the office is tantamount to “obstruction of justice.” Thus, Tomas went to the Ombudsman. I am not a lawyer, but I don’t see any legal basis or cause of action on his move. Maybe he just filed the counter-move apparently to antagonize the respondents and pressure them to come up with a compromise. Or he just wants to redeem his shattered image. It’s too late.
Now, maybe just to sabotage Labella’s administration or maybe for publicity purposes, he wants to scuttle again the sale of the 45-hectare SRP lots to the consortium of SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land Inc., and Filinvest during the time of former mayor Michael Rama. The entire sale amounted to P16 billion and the buyers already made a downpayment on half of the amount. This, following the decision of the Cebu Regional Trial Court last Aug. 28, 2019 to allow the withdrawal of the case initially filed by the City Legal Office last June when Labella took over the helm at City Hall for lack of merit.
Osmeña’s allies at the City Council tried to block the move, but they were outnumbered by Labella’s camp. The “has-been” mayor argued and insisted that the sale was illegal because it was not approved by the Commission on Audit. During his term, Osmeña did not use the advance payment of the sale and did not accept the subsequent payments through installments from the buyers as he did not honor the transaction. He kept on saying he would rescind the contract, but nothing happened until his term expired last June, following his defeat in the hands of Labella.
Early this year, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition filed by a certain Romulo Torres, an Osmeña-backed litigant, prohibiting the use of the proceeds of the sale. Thus, it paved the way for the utilization of the proceeds of the sale. In fact, part of the funds is now included in the supplemental budget discussed by the City Council for the senior citizens and persons with disability’s financial assistance for the months of July up to December.
Why would Tomas insist on his move? I don’t think he is doing this to protect the interest of the city and the Cebuanos. It is his own ego and personal agenda that pushes him to do any legal maneuver ostensibly to sabotage the present administration. He has not gotten over yet on his defeat in the last elections. Hey, Mr. Osmeña, it is high time to move on and accept your defeat with humility. With his strategy, I will not be surprised if he will be filing cases left and right against the Labella administration and his nemesis, including myself, just to be heard by the public. This is what he did during his political hiatus between 2013 to 2016. Kanang tawo nga wala nay lain himuon bisan unsa na lang ang mahuna-hunaan. O nagpapansin lang kaha siguro aron dili makalimtan kunuhay sa mga Sugboanon. Wala na uy, laos kana. Pahuway na lang.